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Girl, boy, bakla, tomboy: How the SOGIE Bill is for everyone

By Michael Roy Brosas, Yra Luis Gener Gutierrez, Andrea Panaligan Published Mar 31, 2023 6:05 am

Education, employment, housing, access to government services and safety are fundamental human rights. They are essential to survival, and they are what the SOGIE Equality Bill upholds.

The bill was created to provide equal protection for all Filipinos regardless of their SOGIE: their sexual orientation (who they’re attracted to), gender identity (how they identify themselves), and gender presentation (how they express their gender through appearance and behavior).

Filipinos from all walks of life, can all benefitting from the SOGIE Equality Bill.

It does not only cater to LGBTQ+ people since everyone, including heterosexual people, has SOGIE. Everyone, even those against the bill, will be protected by it.

It does not warrant “special rights” if one sector of society has had limited access to basic human rights in the first place—rights which are, again, essential to survival and should be available to everyone. There is only greater attention given to LGBTQ+ people because they are more often subject to unfair treatment and discrimination because of their SOGIE.

It respects religious freedom because that, too, is a human right. The bill, however, is against spreading hatred towards LGBTQ+ people, even if that hatred is allegedly anchored on “Bible-based” beliefs.

Cut out the flyer and keep, stick, or give away.

But do we really need this bill? Isn’t the Philippines already accepting of LGBTQ+ people, especially since we see a lot of them being successful?

Let’s meet Ryan, Maria, Gab, and Elmer—Filipinos from all walks of life, all benefitting from the SOGIE Equality Bill. While they are fictional composites, their experiences are rooted in reality, and the government’s refusal to pass the bill has and will continue to put many real lives at risk.

Ryan, 16

A year from now, Ryan is set to choose a strand for senior high school. The thought of it is both exhilarating and nerve-racking; it keeps him up at night. He’s still unsure of which path to take, but he’s drawn towards picking STEM. The only problem is, the school that offers the best STEM program in his province has a history of turning a blind eye to LGBTQIA-related issues, like bullying and teachers outing their gay students.

With the SOGIE Equality Bill in place, Ryan may heave a sigh of relief, because of the following:

  • The bill protects Ryan from different forms of bullying and harassment either done by his peers, teachers, or people involved in law enforcement.
  • It prohibits anyone from outing him without his consent.
  • The bill makes it unlawful for educational institutions to refuse admission or expel him based on his SOGIE.
  • The bill’s information and education campaign empowers him and helps the people around him to understand his sexuality better.
Maria, 22

Maria tells her OB-GYN that her girlfriend Julie is her best friend. Despite Julie never missing Maria’s pre-natal checkups, the OB persistently asks, “Nasaan ang Tatay? Si kumare pa rin ang kasama natin?” 

Still, the couple is excited about this new chapter—they will be first-time parents, and Maria’s fellow church members have shown nothing but full support. They even started a small fund to help the expectant parents. Maria is only in her first trimester, so she’s been looking for a job too. How can the SOGIE Bill help her?

  • The bill protects Maria from gender-based discrimination from employers who may choose not to hire her because she is likely to go on maternity leave.
  • Maria gets a fair wage. The gender pay gap is a form of gender-based discrimination, which the SOGIE Bill addresses.
  • It also protects her from employers or peers who harass or mistreat her once they find out she’s bisexual.
  • While the bill doesn’t legalize same-sex marriage, it protects Maria and Julie from unfair treatment and humiliation from employers, neighbors, or the future school administrators of their child.
Gab, 26

Since being laid off, Gab has been struggling with finding a new job. Many companies require Gab to use his deadname for his office ID, or to conform to “proper grooming” he isn’t comfortable with, like wearing makeup daily.

Gab and his live-in partner moved to a smaller apartment to save up for now. Most landlords didn’t like that Gab’s IDs didn’t match his appearance so his girlfriend had to sign the contracts. This was a frustrating experience—it reminded him of the first lockdown, when he didn’t receive any assistance from the government for the same reason.

Here are some of the ways the SOGIE Bill can help Gab, who often experiences SOGIE-based discrimination:

  • The bill penalizes employers who refuse employment and exhibit discrimination and abuse based on an employee’s gender identity and presentation. SOGIE-based discrimination also includes policies that prohibit Gab from wearing his preferred attire and using his preferred bathroom.
  • It protects Gab from denial of health services, insurance, and HMO, ensuring that he will rightfully receive his benefits.
  • It promotes equal opportunities for anyone and protects individuals like Gab from denial of aid and assistance from the government, as well as access to necessities like housing.
Elmer, 47

With his daughter’s 18th birthday fast approaching, Elmer has been working extra shifts to pay for a simple celebration. Thankfully, his daughter insisted that she won’t be wearing gowns or “girly” dresses, which lessens the overall cost of the party.

He’s motivated to work even more for his daughter, but the amount of time he’s been spending at work has affected his mental health. Fortunately, the SOGIE Bill empowers him to express and feel his emotions without having his masculinity threatened. Although, as a straight man, he rarely experiences gender-based discrimination, the bill still offers the following:

  • The bill promotes healthcare and protects his mental health in workplaces.
  • Its programs and initiatives on nondiscrimination and diversity establish an environment free from stigma and discrimination, particularly regarding men’s mental health.
  • The bill’s information and education campaign gives him a better understanding of his and his daughter’s SOGIE, making him a better father and a better person.